The Luxury Sector Now Focusing on a Sustainable Future: An Analysis

Dana Thomas covers the fashion industry’s relationship to sustainability in this article from December of 2015. Thomas discusses the industry’s history of “greenwashing” as well as quoting director of consumer sectors for BSR as stating, “Consumer consciousness and expectations are evolving regarding corporate environmental issues, especially for millennials. They want their brands to behave responsibly.” Thomas examines what some companies, fashion institutes, and organizations have been doing in order to attain sustainable and traceable practices. This article also discusses the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, which was also discussed in more detail in a New York Times article by Tom Zeller in 2011 (x). This index could be ready later this year, and “will be a standardized supply chain measurement tool so garment tags can inform shoppers about their purchases’ social and environmental effects.” Thomas gives a great overview of how the fashion industry is beginning to work toward sustainable ways, and helps push the point that in order to reach a system of sustainability, members across the industry must be willing to work together.

The first aspect of the article that I am going to examine is the simple fact that the fashion industry is stepping up and taking responsibility for the fact that they should be involved in sustainability practices. I’d also like to point out that it isn’t just consumers in general who are cited as being a driving force for this movement, but millennials — the generation that is said to be the most complacent and lazy generation living (but I’m not here to gripe about that). That big players in the fashion industry have recognized that their methods of production are not sustainable and are taking steps to become more sustainable is a huge deal, and because this article was written almost a year and a half ago, we probably have already begun to see some of these steps occurring.

The second aspect of the article I will examine discusses the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index and measures corporations are taking to become more sustainable. Thomas states that the index could be ready in 2017, meaning that hopefully sometime this year the index will begin to be used. That is all kinds of exciting! To be able to have one measure of sustainability which is applied across brands and across producers will hugely impact transparency in the fashion industry. Right now, there are all kinds of corners companies can hide behind, but with a tool such as this, that kind of hiding will be much more difficult. Other measures being taken are initiatives to stop deforestation practices, banning the use of chemicals such as polyvinal chloride, as well as measures in jewelry markets to track what impacts mines have on surrounding environments.

Thomas, D. (2015, Dec. 1). The Luxury Sector Now Focusing on a Sustainable Future. The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/fashion/luxury-brands-focusing-on-a-sustainable-future.html

-CA